The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan has called on the Government to urgently bring forward the long-promised new legislation to ban zombie-style knives and machetes – as soon as Parliament returns.
The weapons are still available to purchase cheaply and legally online. He has also called on Ministers to toughen up their proposals and urgently close loopholes that mean these weapons could still be purchased even after laws are eventually introduced.
Four of the most recent Home Secretaries – Theresa May, Amber Rudd, Sajid Javid and Priti Patel, together with current Policing Minister Chris Philp – have all announced plans to ban the blades since 2016, but so far it still hasn’t happened. The knives remain available to buy online, with no legislation yet in place.
The Mayor has written to the Home Secretary Suella Braverman saying he welcomes recent government announcements in this area but reiterating that there is no time to waste in introducing this legislation – and that it must be toughened up. He has highlighted a number of loopholes in the current proposals that should be closed immediately.
In particular, the proposed new measures cover knives that have either a serrated edge, more than one hole in the blade, or multiple sharp spikes. The Mayor believes this is something that can easily be circumnavigated by manufacturers by changing the design. He also thinks that other knives can be equally as dangerous and that narrowly defined restrictions will not be effective.
The Government proposals still allow for machete-style knives that have ‘legitimate use’, which includes for work or leisure. Sadiq thinks there is not enough evidence to support these types of knives being used for such purposes, and that they are purchased solely to inflict harm, violence and to intimidate.
Sadiq fully recognises that the causes of violent crime are extremely complex, involving deep-seated societal problems like poverty, social alienation, mental ill-health and a lack of opportunity and the solutions will take time, particularly with the prolonging of Government austerity. He stands ready to offer support to Government and partner agencies to drive down not just knife crime, but all forms of violent crime.
The Mayor has been clear that there is a national epidemic of violence against women and girls which needs to be treated with urgency. From City Hall, the Mayor has overseen more than £117m in investment in tackling violence against women and girls since he was first elected and is championing a public health approach to ending the violence and misogyny too many women face on a daily basis as we work towards building a safer London for everyone.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Tackling violence in our city will always be my top priority and I am determined to be tough on crime and tough on its complex causes.
“I am urging the Government to urgently bring forward the long-awaited legislation banning zombie-style knives and machetes as soon as Parliament returns.
“Ministers have my full support on this, and I’ve welcomed their announcements to tighten up the law. But the time for talking is over and we need to speed up the legislation so we can ban these awful weapons as soon as possible. The proposals also need to be toughened up to close the loopholes that could still allow the sale of these weapons.
“I’m determined to do everything in my power to end the scourge of knife crime and continue leading from the front to build a safe London for everyone.”
The Mayor also says there is a need for greater dialogue between the Government and social media companies to ensure that posts and videos that glamourise violence are not shared, and that posts promoting the sale of weapons, usually for low prices, are prevented from going live.
Similarly, work needs to be undertaken with retailers, with online purchases presenting a loophole. Identification is currently required at point of sale, but this is not necessarily requested on delivery and where retailers are challenged on this, they often pass the blame on to the delivery company.
Sadiq is committed to driving down violence by being tough on violent crime and tough on its complex causes. He has invested record amount in the Metropolitan police and London’s Violence Reduction Unit (VRU), which in partnership with others across London, helped to see the number of murders in the capital fall last year to its lowest level since 2014.
The Mayor’s investment has helped to boost officer numbers by 1,300 and recruit 500 new Police Community Support Officers to revitalise neighbourhood policing in our communities. Against the backdrop of devastating Government cuts, which have decimated youth services in London and across the country, the Mayor set up the VRU to lead prevention and early intervention work, which has led to funding more than 150,000 positive opportunities for young people already.
However, the Mayor is clear that there is still a long way to go and will continue to do everything in his power to drive down violence. He urges the Government to match his commitment and undo the damage of cuts that have seen more than 700 fewer youth workers and the closure of more than 130 youth centres across London.